The Last Days of the Lilliputians

William T. Hathaway

In Gulliver's Travels the tiny Lilliputians attacked the much larger Gulliver while he was sleeping and tied him to the ground with thousands of threads. In a similar way the ruling elite have tied the working class in bondage. Small in number but great in power, the elite have designed myriad mechanisms of control to hold the much larger working class down and force it to work for them. These include institutions such as mainstream politics, media, schools, labor unions, police, courts, military, and patriarchal gender roles. They also include emotionally laden concepts such as rugged individualism, a false image of socialism, and the very way we conceive of social class.

This last, the encultured view of ourselves, robs us of our class identity. Very few of us consider ourselves working class. The term has been made to seem a musty relic of the nineteenth century, synonymous with lower class, a disreputable band of losers who are to be feared and perhaps pitied, but certainly not to be identified with. Instead we are offered a hierarchy of many classes: upper, upper middle, middle, lower middle, and last and certainly least, the lumpen lower. Within these we are fragmented further by conflicting differences: ethnic, religious, gender, life style. We're supposed to identify with our niche and our job and to strive to move up or at least not slip down in the hierarchy. But more and more of us are slipping down, losing the few securities we had. In our bewildered anger we find allies only within our isolated niche, so our struggles are ineffective.

Almost all of us are in fact working class. Everyone in the world who has to work for someone else for the essentials of living is working class. Only when we join together in solidarity will we succeed.


Comrades in Arms

William T. Hathaway

From the book
RADICAL PEACE: People Refusing War
by William T. Hathaway

I received this letter from an ex-soldier.

Hi Mr. Hathaway,

I got your letter (forwarded) asking for information for your book. To answer your first question, Yes, I'm enjoying living in Holland. I'm becoming the little Dutch girl — the little Black Dutch girl, but that doesn't bother people here. They're very tolerant and internationally minded.

As for the rest of your questions, at first I didn't think I could answer them. They reminded me too much of an essay test in school. Plus it's not exactly pleasant to remember back on all this stuff, you know. I'm trying to leave it behind and start a new life.

But I kept thinking about it and finally decided I would forget the questions and just write about what happened. Like you said, people should know about this. Don't give anybody my address, though. The army still wants to put me in prison.


From Cheerleader to Enemy of the State

William T. Hathaway


"The Insurrection" by Barbara Alden Campbell (oil on canvas)

From the book
RADICAL PEACE: People Refusing War
by William T. Hathaway

The long, flouncy curls from Judy Davis's cheerleader days are gone. Her straight blonde hair is now cut short. Large blue eyes stand out in a face pale without makeup. Her soft Southern drawl has an undertone of determination. "It's taken me awhile, but now I'm glad to be considered an 'unsuitable influence.' That was how the school board justified my firing. That and 'deviating from the curriculum.' It's like they were implying I was a deviant. And according to their norms, I am."

The twenty-nine-year-old was fired for teaching her high school students how US foreign policy has provoked terrorism. This struggle with her school board turned her from a Republican into a revolutionary for peace.

"I taught my tenth grade American history class about what the USA has done for decades in the countries in which we now have terrorism. We work with the local oligarchs there to keep the country under control for our economic advantage. We support dictators and also the kind of managed democracy we have in the USA, where the only political parties that have a chance are those aligned with business and the private ownership of resources. People in those countries are tired of being kept at the bottom. They're tired of CIA coups and assassinations of progressive leaders. So now they're defending themselves the only way they can. And they're getting pretty good at it.

"This was a lesson for my class in history but also in cause and effect, as I explained what has provoked so many people to such anger at the USA. But the effect on me was that I got fired and now apparently blacklisted.


SAMs for Uncle Sam

William T. Hathaway

From the book
RADICAL PEACE: People Refusing War
by William T. Hathaway

Merna al-Marjan is a young Iraqi who is currently in Germany studying European history. We talked in her dormitory room, a spartan but functional cubicle in a building that embodies a hopeful change in European history: it was constructed in the nineteenth century as an army barracks but now houses university students. That's progress.

On Merna's small table sat a pot of peppermint tea and a plate of baklava. She's short and plump with smooth skin the color of clover honey and deep anthracite eyes; she was wearing a long skirt of light cotton, a long-sleeved blouse, and a green paisley headscarf.

Hathaway: "Headscarves have become a controversial item of clothing here in Germany."

Al-Marjan: "Yes, you can't teach in the schools if you wear one. It's OK for a teacher to wear a Christian crucifix but not a Muslim headscarf. I didn't wear a hijab in Iraq, but I've started doing it here to show solidarity. It's ridiculous to ban an article of clothing, a simple piece of cloth. What sort of freedom is that?

"The West has such a distorted view of Arab women. Well, of men too, but since I'm a woman, I notice that more.


Resurrecting Insurrection

William T. Hathaway

Endless war … endless despair. America's military juggernaut continues to roll, crushing multitudes of soft, breathing human beings, creating more counter-violence at every turn, lumbering toward annihilation. We finally elect a leader who pledges to bring peace, and he morphs before our incredulous eyes into a war president, shifting the fighting onto mercenaries and local soldiers and claiming that's peace. We're still killing thousands of people, manipulating other nations, modernizing our nuclear weapons, forcing our financial will around the world, and jailing dissenters at home. Fortress America continues to expand globally as prison, sweatshop, and fire base. After all our years trying to change this country, how could we end up with this?

To answer this question and avoid falling into catatonic despondency or self-destructive rage, it might help to review the history of the age we live in. More than revolution or reform, what has shaped our times most strongly is revanchism. Rolling back change and reinstating the old order has been the dominant current.

This began immediately after the Russian Revolution, when the USA, Britain, France, and Japan sent in soldiers to try to reverse it. Although they failed, this marked the beginning of 70 years of military and economic warfare. The capitalist powers were so threatened by communism that they pulled out all the stops to overthrow it, unleashing an offensive of sabotage, espionage, and armed conflict that killed millions in Korea and Vietnam, brought the world to the brink of nuclear annihilation, and eventually brought the Soviet government to its knees. If communism hadn’t been under this relentless attack, it might have developed into a much different system.


Stemming the Tides of Protest

William T. Hathaway

As the living conditions of ordinary people inevitably worsen under capitalism and as its wars cause increasing devastation, tides of protest rise up from the population. The ruling elite then seek to stem these tides before they reach flood state.

In 2008 the tide was rising to dangerous levels as millions of people worldwide took to the streets to demonstrate against US economic and military imperialism. The elite then defended against a revolutionary flood by heralding the promise of "Change you can believe in." They presented a candidate who seemed to be the total opposite of their previous servant, George W. Bush. Barack Obama promised a new era of peace abroad and progressive policies at home. America and the world loved him. His rhetoric of cooperation instead of confrontation won him the presidency and the Nobel Peace Prize. The tide of protest drained away, mollified by his charisma.

Now the tide is rising again, angrier this time from being duped. And again the elite are seeking to stem it. Their liberal media are taking a populist tone: "Yes, the system is broken, really in need of repair. The financial markets should be regulated to avoid these destructive orgies of greed that have concentrated too much wealth in too few hands. We should even consider tax measures that would redistribute some of this and give the ordinary person a fair chance."

As a model for these changes, some liberal commentators are pointing to the social democracies of Europe. Stephen Hill's new book, Europe's Promise: Why the European Way is the Best Hope in an Insecure Age, champions social democracy, claiming it combines positive features of capitalism and socialism by using market regulations and welfare measures to produce a high level of general prosperity. He enumerates the benefits of public health insurance, environmental protection, access to education, decent wages, unemployment benefits, and secure retirement, and suggests we can adapt these in the USA. This call for a kinder, gentler capitalism based on the European model can also be found in The Nation magazine and in groups like Move On. It sounds good, and it was good for a while, but now it's disappearing in Europe.


America Is Under Attack!

William T. Hathaway


World Trade Center Building 7 before the
treacherous government of the United States
& Zionist Israel demolished it, thus starting
their phoney "war on terror". - Editor

"Vicious fanatics are trying to kill us and destroy our country. They're blowing up our soldiers overseas. They've infiltrated our country. We must defend ourselves against these mad-dog berserkers before it's too late."

This litany has been repeated by corporate-controlled media and politicians for years now, pumping fear into us. It is used to justify a massive ongoing war that has killed hundreds of thousands of our fellow human beings and almost bankrupted the USA.

But is it really true? Who started this war? When did it begin? The history of this conflict reveals a different story than the one continually beamed at us. The Romans were the first Westerners to try to dominate and plunder the Middle East; the Christian crusaders followed, then nineteenth-century imperialists. From the Arabs' perspective, the barbarians keep descending on them from the north, and they keep throwing them out. In the past hundred years the attacks have intensified as new treasure has been discovered: vast reserves of black, liquid gold under the desert sands.

During World War One, the British persuaded the Arabs to fight on their side by promising them independence. Thousands of them died in battle for the Brits because of this promise of freedom. But after the victory Britain refused to leave. It maintained control by installing puppet kings -- Faisal in Iraq and Ibn Saud in Saudi Arabia -- to rule in its interest.

After World War Two, Britain and the USA pressured the United Nations into confiscating Arab land to form the state of Israel, making the Arabs pay for the crimes of the Germans. In addition to providing a nation for the Jews, Israel would be a forward base for Western economic and military power in the Middle East. To the Arabs it was another European invasion of their territory.

In the early 1950s, the USA and Britain overthrew the government of Iran because it tried to nationalize its oil industry, which was under Western control. We installed the Shah as dictator, and he promptly gave the oil back to us. Then he began a twenty-five year reign of terror against his own people. His secret police jailed, tortured, or killed hundreds of thousands of Iranians who opposed him. Since they knew he was kept in power only by American military aid, they began hating the USA. They finally ousted the Shah, but then the CIA started subverting the new government, trying to bring it down. At that point the Iranians fought back by holding US Embassy officials hostage, which was a mild response, considering what we had done to their country.


Subversive Thrills

William T. Hathaway & Paul Carline

A Review of Gaither Stewart's latest novel, The Trojan Spy

Gaither Stewart's The Trojan Spy takes the thriller genre an important step forward, advancing it from the work of his predecessors John le Carré and Robert Ludlum. Le Carré and Ludlum rebelled against the conventions of the classic spy thrillers, which assumed that we're the good guys who are under attack by bad guys so evil that we're justified in bending the rules to save ourselves from them. In that world, lies, deceit, sabotage, and even murder are sometimes necessary to defend peace, justice, and the American (or Western) Way against (pick one, depending on when the book was written) Nazis, communists, or terrorists.

Le Carré and Ludlum made the genre less predictable in terms of identifying the bad guys. Instead of these being agents of the particular ennemi du jour, as in the simplistic 007 stories, they gave us plots revolving around corrupt politicians, rogue secret service agents, and insider conspiracies -- as in the film Syriana, or le Carré's The Constant Gardener. The perennial theme of many of le Carré's stories is the callous amorality of secret services -- especially the American and British ones -- who routinely betray others, even their own agents, for very questionable ulterior motives. The good guys -- whether civilian or secret service -- are often sacrificed for political or operational ends.

In Ludlum's "Bourne" series of books and films the suggestion is that the hero, Jason Bourne, has been subjected to mind-altering techniques which largely erased his original persona, replacing it with that of a programmable assassin. There are clear links here to secret government-sponsored programs such as MKUltra -- which were more than likely used in a number of recent faked "terrorist" bombing incidents, notably those of the "shoe bomber" Richard Reid and the December 2010 "underwear bomber," Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab -- both of whom were described by witnesses as appearing confused and disoriented, with glazed eyes.


Patriot's Game

William T. Hathaway


"The Spirit Of '76" Archibald M. Willard (1836-1918)

Once again in election season the drums of patriotism are being beaten. Politicians on the stump and their Madison Avenue flacks are exhorting us to rally around the tattered flag. Their drumming sounds feeble and hollow, though, like cheerleaders trying to rouse the fans while our military team goes down to defeat, bringing the economy with it.

The drummers persist because their patriotic noise drowns out the voices of those asking disturbing questions: Why are we playing this losing game to begin with? Why are we bankrupting the country with endless war? How can we love a nation that slaughters millions of our fellow human beings? These questions endanger the game, and the game must go on.

Patriotism keeps us in the game. It's an instrument of control that's cultivated in us as children through emotional rituals designed to make us identify our nation with our family and with some higher power. These rituals create a bond of feeling linking God the Father, the Founding Fathers, and our own fathers into a patriarchal hierarchy that rewards us if we're obedient and punishes us if we're rebellious. It's a tool for keeping us in our place.

Patriotism exploits the love we have for our parents by projecting it onto the nation. We love our country, so we react to criticism of it as an attack on our family. This criticism hurts our feelings on a deep personal level, so we reject it. It's too threatening to us. The emotionality of patriotism keeps us from thinking about what the USA is actually doing in the world: dominating other countries through economic, political, and military aggression.


Literature in a Locked Down Land

William T. Hathaway

Working class literature is alive and well and living in prison. It is "well" not in the sense of being contented and happy but rather of being vital and impassioned. And it is imprisoned not just in the sense of being locked behind bars but also of being locked into poverty. Some prisons have walls of iron and stone, others walls of economics and racism. It is their efforts to escape from this second prison that get most inmates incarcerated in the first. As Mumia Abu-Jamal said, "I've been in prison my whole life."

The life-constricting pressures in both types of prisons can crush some psyches and produce diamonds of art and wisdom in others. Struggle: A Magazine of Revolutionary Proletarian Literature has been publishing the diamonds (along with some glass) since 1985. Reading it is to rediscover the power of art to give us insights and inspire us to action, an invigorating change from the vapid musings and trivial subjectivity that pass for "literary" these days. By showing us the multi-layered oppression surrounding us and the strength of the human spirit caught within that, Struggle is contributing to a culture of resistance and eventually of revolution.


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